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going to death valley soon
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delun cai
(olivercai) - F
going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 01:08:11 MDT Print View

hi, i am going to hike in death valley in august. but every one who i know is keeping talking about i can't make it, and i will die there. is it ture?? i don`t thing so. if you going there, what gear will you bring?

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
death valley. on 07/22/2008 09:59:49 MDT Print View

we'll need to know more about your plans to know if you'll die or not. seriously. i mean, august is an okay time to be there, as long as you have lots of water, tolerate high heat, and don't stray too far from a car. if you are unprepared it's really easy to get in trouble rapidly.

are you doing some short day hikes out and back to a car? are you embarking on a 200 mile hike? what's your plan for hiking? for water? etc.

it can easily be 115 degrees out there then.

delun cai
(olivercai) - F
hi on 07/22/2008 11:52:44 MDT Print View

i am going to do the cottonwood/marble canyon loop hike. it is 26 to mile loop hiking. it take 3 to 5 day to finish it. so, how much water do you thing that i need?

Christopher Chupka
(FatTexan) - M

Locale: NTX
H2O on 07/22/2008 12:06:06 MDT Print View

As much water as I drink and to include some extra in case of an emergency I would "carry" at least 2 gallons a day. I would figure at least a liter per hour on the move.

Maybe you have an old external frame Kelty to carry all the weight, I don't think a Gossamer Gear Murmur is gonna cut it.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
???? on 07/22/2008 12:07:37 MDT Print View

I'd advise AGAINST that 26 mile August Death Valley hike. I live in Henderson, Nevada and wouldn't even hike HERE in August.


Christopher Chupka
(FatTexan) - M

Locale: NTX
Safety on 07/22/2008 12:16:41 MDT Print View

Eric's reply is probably the best answer.

Figure 2 gallons a day, 5 days worth of water to be safe, approximately 6 pounds per gallon, that would be roughly 60 pounds of water.

Ryan Krause

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 12:18:56 MDT Print View

Look at the climate table for Death Valley at

Where do you normally live? Have you ever experienced 100+ degree weather for sustained periods of time? With those temperatures you would be carrying a huge amount of weight just in water, see above posts, 2 gallons seems a good estimate. Why are you planning on August?

I lived in AZ for many years and August was the month for gym climbing, not backpacking.

Edited by rmkrause on 07/22/2008 12:21:22 MDT.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
death valley. on 07/22/2008 12:39:26 MDT Print View

well, i don't know that loop specifically, but if it's basically trail/wash hiking, i would imagine that 26 miles would be more like an easy overnight hike, not a 3-5 day hike, right? if so, carrying the necessary water (still LOTS) won't be a problem. and if you plan spring water, make SURE it's available.

details on the hike here:

remember that "3-5 days" is for those usual backpacker types that hike 6-8 miles a day. if you really want to do it in august, do it as an overnighter with minimal gear, lots of water. hike in the morning, siesta in the afternoon, hike in the evening, sleep at night, finish the hike the next morning/early afternoon, and be done.

that said, there's NO great reason to be hiking in death valley in the summer... it's just TOO hot.

i don't mean to be rude, but from your comments, it sounds like you don't know much about what you are getting into, both the distance vs. time to hike it, the temperature, the water situation, gear required, etc. death valley in summer is a great place for unprepared people to die - i know people who work out there, and i've heard some very grim stories.

take all the information and planning VERY seriously!

Edited by DaveT on 07/22/2008 12:54:02 MDT.

Adam Behr
(justsomeguy) - MLife
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 12:55:29 MDT Print View

I've never been to Death Valley, but I currently live in the Coachella Valley, where temperatures are often over 110F in the summer and make it over 120F regularly. Death Valley gets even hotter.

Even if you have experienced temperatures over 100, it's still a very different thing from 115-120. It's an awful lot like being punched in the stomach when you walk out of an air conditioned building, and the feeling really doesn't lighten up as you you get used to it, at least in my experience.

Do not underestimate what that'll do to you, energy-wise and hydration needs-wise.

Also, water actually weighs ~8.35 pounds per gallon.

I'm sure people have done what you want to do, but it'd seem to me it involves an awful lot of planning, and most likely some experience in such a climate, as well as lots of preparation involving caching water beforehand and other site specific strategies.

I don't like to make judgements about people I've never met based on a few lines on a message board, but I'd be willing to bet an awful lot of money that if you're here asking if Death Valley in August will kill you, and what you might need, you're not even almost ready to go do this in a month or so.

I could be wrong.

I hope you read this in the kind and helpful manner it was intended.

Good luck.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 12:58:28 MDT Print View

If going alone in August, make sure you have your will in place. I've heard people have left for a dayhike and not been able to make it back to their cars because they became dehydrated within a few hours.

Edited by jshann on 07/22/2008 13:05:22 MDT.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Re: going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 13:30:25 MDT Print View

Death Valley's lower elevations in August are NO place for the uninitiated. Technically, you'll need a permit to do such a backcountry trek at this time of year, and the rangers will assess your preparedness (or lack thereof) prior to making their determination.

If you don't have a permit - ie, formally announce your plans to the rangers - you'll possibly be endangering the lives of those who mount a SAR operation, as an untended vehicle in August can quickly raise suspicions of the worst.

Seriously, don't do it.

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Great comments with good intentions on 07/22/2008 14:02:37 MDT Print View

I've actually been to Death Valley, in August no less, and it is certainly one of the most amazing and unique places I have visited; but it is best enjoyed from the road and by ranger-guided tours.

I would also like to discourage you from the 26 mile loop, but that certainly is not to say that you can't accomplish it. In reality the chances of you literally "dying" are slim if you are well-prepared and willing to absolutely buck the thought of lightweight backpacking. If you do decide to go, be prepared for a more figurative death that you will not enjoy, and don't ever lose sight of the fact that a literal death is possible -- it's called Death Valley for a reason. I don't mean to make things sound gruesome, but Death Valley is certainly the ONLY place I've been to where I am gleeful of elevation gains -- you literally feel losses of energy and temperature rises for every 10 yards you descend.

26 miles normally doesn't seem like a big deal, but Death Valley is one of the few places where it actually is a big deal. Death Valley even makes Canyonlands pale in comparison.

If you've already made up your mind, and you're the real adventurous type; then most of us can attest to the fact that it isn't likely you will change your mind. If that is the case, I suggest you read up on the Death Valley 100 races and take note of all of the precautions that are taken for some of the best and fittest endurance runners in America along MAINTAINED ROADS in the area.

Edited by MissingUtah on 07/22/2008 14:04:46 MDT.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
Death Valley Trip on 07/22/2008 14:19:13 MDT Print View

A question to regular posters.

When a newbie makes a post that clearly indicates lack of experience, research, etc., what is the best approach for the forum community to take?

In this instance, I thought ignoring the post was best.

Michael Wands
(walksoftly) - F

Locale: Piney Woods
going to death valley soon on 07/22/2008 14:34:11 MDT Print View

I just completed a 2-day, 24 mile trip in Texas when it reached 102. I hike every July & August.

However, I am in the heat all of the time and have become acclimated somewhat. I carry NOTHING. Only a silk liner and some netting for sleeping and some energy bars for food. I go to lakes and rivers where there is a sure source of water and a good chance of a breeze. This last weekend I filtered and drank 2 gallons of water a day and still only pee'd three times!!!

Be very carefull. You have to take nature on her terms and she can be very unforgiving. This hike will still be there for you in November.

Adam Behr
(justsomeguy) - MLife
Re: Death Valley Trip on 07/22/2008 14:37:25 MDT Print View

CASEY BOWDEN WROTE-"A question to regular posters.

When a newbie makes a post that clearly indicates lack of experience, research, etc., what is the best approach for the forum community to take?

In this instance, I thought ignoring the post was best."

Personally, there were two things in this thread that drew me out of lurking (which I did as a paying member for well over a year).

One was having personal experience that plenty of people out there probably don't, in this case spending too much time in temps over 120F.

The other was something incorrect stated as fact that I felt capable of succinctly correcting (e.g. weight of water).

There are probably a lot more people out there reading than will ever post, possibly even years into the future. Whether or not posting helps the OP (and I hope it does) there are plenty of others that could, at least potentially, benefit.

I can sure understand the impulse to ignore, and maybe it is for the best.

I'm curious as to others' thoughts on the matter.

Good question.


Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Death Valley Trip on 07/22/2008 14:39:59 MDT Print View

The guy seems incapable of using a shift key. Wonder what his planning and preparation skills are like...

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
death valley. on 07/22/2008 14:54:48 MDT Print View

1. adam, your post and the reasons behind it are spot on. especially since this information will be available for years into the future (or at least the next server crash), so it's a good resource. i guess i also think that when someone comes on and says "i am new to backpacking... what backpack should i buy?" we all tend to try to help, rather than ignore the noob. i see this death valley question as MUCH more important to weight in on, since it could be a life vs. death issue.

2. re: the shift key. i better start using it too, i guess, otherwise people will think i don't know how to analyze, plan, or hike. and based on the carbon flame war thread, i don't want to get on roger's bad side. :)

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Death Valley - good intentions on 07/22/2008 15:00:11 MDT Print View

When I visited the Furnace Creek NPS contact station in June a couple of years ago, ranger Charlie Callaghan looked worried. "We just pulled a body off the salt playa of Badwater Basin a few weeks ago," he informed me. "He died doing what you're planning to do, more or less."

I was there to pick up my permit before attempting the Lowest-to-Highest Trail, a backcountry hiking route from Badwater to Mt Whitney. It was the first portion of the route - in his jurisdiction, as it were - that had Charlie most concerned - the long, hot, arduous cross-country trek across Badwater Basin and up to Telescope Peak. My strategy was to night hike that stretch over a 48 hr period in an attempt to avoid the merciless broiling pan that Death Valley by day becomes at that time of year. Despite possessing a desert hiking resume that should have staved off most of my doubts, I still had some, and ranger Charlie a good deal more for me yet.

"He had been attempting to hike from Badwater to Telescope and back in a day. Made it to the top, then died within sight of his vehicle on the return." That's not so surprising, the ranger went on to explain. In that kind of heat, (120F+) the margin of safety is extremely thin. One minute the heat may appear manageable, the next you're lightheaded, weak, and can't go on. And incapacitation away from help quickly brings heat stroke, then death.

I never did make it beyond the briny pool of Badwater later that night. My rental car's outside temperature gauge was still reading 114 degrees at 10pm, and the desert wind was like a blowtorch, exacerbating rather than relieving the dessicating heat. Instead I opted to drive up to the cool heights of Wildrose campground for the night, then climbed 11,000 foot Telescope Peak as an out-and-back day hike. I had a fair amount of company on the hike, too, and none of us appeared to be suffering too much, but rather enjoying what amounted to a great hike at the perfect time of year.

The "L2H" remains to be completed, a goal awaiting some free time in autumn one of these years. Summertime heroics in the low country of Death Valley, it turns out, is primarily for fools.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: death valley. on 07/22/2008 15:16:01 MDT Print View

Dave: at least you can spell. :-)

When I'm walking in Spain in the summer, I get up real early and stay in the shade as much as possible. Then I rest up under an overhang and walk again in the late afternoon until dark. I dislike carrying lots of water so I ask around for local knowledge on spring locations before I set off.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
death valley. on 07/22/2008 16:27:50 MDT Print View

i guess i was just assuming that english was not the original poster's first language.

either way, he's probably afraid to post on this subject again, after all of our comments!